Commish: Fouling away from ball, replay to be reviewed

Updated: May 8, 2008, 12:52 AM ET
By J.A. Adande | ESPN.com

NBA commissioner David Stern said Wednesday that the league will consider changing its rules on fouls away from the basketball in addition to reviewing the use of replay for game clock malfunctions when the competition committee meets in Orlando at the end of the month.

Speaking to reporters at the Staples Center before he presented the Most Valuable Player award to Los Angeles Lakers guard Kobe Bryant, Stern said, "I think there are two subjects that are going to get some attention by the competition committee. No. 1 is review on clock situations. And No. 2 is the whole intentional fouls away from the play etc. I don't know what the results will be in each one, but I think those are worthy of some considered attention."

Both issues have come to the forefront in the playoffs. In the first round, the San Antonio Spurs made extensive use of the Hack-a-Shaq tactic, repeatedly fouling Phoenix Suns center Shaquille O'Neal away from the ball to send him to the free-throw line. While the Suns questioned the aesthetics of the strategy, they admitted it affected them by disrupting the tempo of the game -- and O'Neal shot only 50 percent from the line in the series.

Stern indicated he had a problem with "the idea that, 'Hey, look at me, I'm going to hit this guy as soon as the ball goes into play, even though he's standing under the other basket.' I think that conversation has been started again, by the media, by fans etc. We're going to look at it again."

His comments about clock reviews echoed those made by NBA president Joel Litvin in a statement in which he admitted a 3-pointer by Detroit's Chauncey Billups at the end of the third quarter of Game 2 against the Orlando Magic should not have counted. With 5.1 second remaining, the Pistons inbounded the ball on the far end of the court, and the clock froze at 4.8 seconds as Billups dribbled upcourt. Litvin said the play took 5.7 seconds, meaning the buzzer should have sounded before the shot went up.

Under current rules the play was not reviewable because officials are allowed to use replay only if a shot went in and the clock expires. If the use of replay were expanded, Stern said, "We'd have to actually have the timing synched over the video, so that going to the video was really a slam dunk, so to speak. We would have to be persuaded that we could time code the video in real time."

In other topics, Stern disputed the notion that NBA players' participation in international competition takes an excessive toll on their bodies. Lakers Coach Phil Jackson brought up the subject earlier in the evening when asked about Bryant's Olympic duties this summer.

"The rest and recuperation that they can get in the offseason is really critical to players," Jackson said. "We've joined world basketball in this cause to chase whatever."

J.A. Adande is the author of "The Best Los Angeles Sports Arguments." He joined ESPN.com as an NBA columnist in August 2007 after 10 years with the Los Angeles Times. Click here to e-mail J.A.